'Bath salts' street drug source of flesh eating bacteria

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Chelsea Gaudin / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS – An injection of the street drug known as “bath salts” is the newest source of a flesh eating infection, according to the LSU Health Sciences Center.

It is hard to diagnose because a majority of the damage rages below the surface of the skin.

“As ‘bath salts’ gain popularity, medical centers of all disciplines must be prepared to identify not only the signs of intoxication, but the potential side effects including deadly necrotizing fasciitis,” noted Dr. Russell R. Russo.

A woman, 34, came to the emergency room complaining of a pain in her forearm. Doctors did not realize it was due to a “bath salt” injection until rapidly progressing redness, skin sloughing, and drainage occurred. She immediately went under surgery, in which doctors said that the infection moved so fast, healthy tissue was dying before their eyes. They had to continuously remove tissue until they reached a clear margin, however, the patients arm, shoulder and collarbone had to be amputated.

“Despite the drug’s legal status, it must be treated as illicit, and one must be suspicious when examining a patient with this clinical history because the diagnosis of flesh-eating bacteria can masquerade as abscesses and cellulitis,” says Dr. Russo.

This particular bacteria has a rapid timeline to tissue destruction and lose of life, according to LSUHSC.

The best treatment comes in the form a a swift diagnosis and extensive surgery.

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